Cargo Bikes at Kerrytown
The H.E.H. couple follow their market.
From the March, 2019 issue
Kim Mayes and Jim Summers want to start a transportation revolution in Ann Arbor. In an effort to spread the gospel of storage-focused, pedal-driven vehicles, the couple is bringing a selection of electric and nonelectric cargo bicycles to Kerrytown Market & Shops.
They see young families and business owners as the prime customers for Urban Rider Cargo Bikes, but the largest obstacle they face is lack of awareness. "Families in Ann Arbor who would buy a cargo bike are not thinking 'I want an electric bike,'" says Mayes. "They might not even be thinking they want a cargo bike yet. It's a new market, but it's an up-and-coming market."
Cargo bikes can range from standard pedal-powered bikes with small platforms in the front or back to three-wheeled electric giants whose frames are dwarfed by large, bucket-like attachments meant to hold groceries and children alike. Load weights (not counting the rider) range from fifty pounds to over 500 pounds. Prices cover an even bigger range: $700 to $10,000.
Summers and Mayes started out modifying standard bicycles with electric motors out of their Pittsfield Village condo in 2012. Summers had added a motor to his own bicycle after growing frustrated with arriving sweaty and fatigued to his Canton job whenever he tried to commute by bike. He and Mayes called the business Human Electric Hybrids, and by 2017 they had a shop in downtown Ypsilanti.
Though Summers says their sales have doubled each year, they noticed their selection of cargo bikes was going untouched. "The cargo bikes we had here [at the Ypsilanti store] were just not selling," says Mayes. "All the people who came to see them were from Ann Arbor ... people would say 'if you open a store in Ann Arbor, let me know!'"
Despite the city's pricey rents, the couple decided to follow the market. They created the new name to match their vision of a modern, urban family on the go, and went to
look at what they thought would be a ground-floor Kerrytown space.
When they got there, landlord Andrew O'Neal pitched a small second-floor spot instead. "We came over there all excited," says Mayes, "and he said, 'this space is no longer available, but I have a space that I want you to think about ... I think you guys would be perfect for us, so please take this little upstairs space until we can find something better." So they did.
"Kerrytown's an ideal place to be, but that specific storefront is not ideal at all," Mayes sighs. Carrying some of the larger bicycles up and down the building's back stairs takes two people. Customers looking for a test ride have to make an appointment beforehand, so that enough staffers are on hand to transport the bike and mind the store.
Formerly home to Collected Collage jewelry, the store is crowded but navigable. Customers can walk along a small loop and look at two vertically oriented rows of bikes. It's decked out in Mayes and Summers' signature gray and bright-green colors, the walls are lined with cartoon skyscrapers, and the floors are covered in painted red bike lanes (unusable in the tiny 400-square-foot space).
Though they sell pedal-only bikes, the couple highly recommends going electric. "Studies have shown that if you have the motor, you end up using the bike more," Summers says. "If you want the workout, just leave the motor off and ride the bike. If you don't want the workout and you just want to get to work as fast as you possibly can, crank it up and go."
Even an electric bike is far greener than a car. "Cars have three-to-four thousand pounds that you have to take with you every time you go somewhere," says Summers. "They use fossil fuel, oil, other toxic chemicals, just to run them.
"Cargo bikes--electric and nonelectric--in general they're several orders of magnitude more efficient than any fossil-fuel vehicle and even an electric [car]."
Urban Rider Cargo Bikes, 407 N. Fifth Ave. (Kerrytown Markets and Shops). (734) 929-5995. Tues.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon. by appt. urbanrider.bike
[Originally published in March, 2019.]
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